During the World War II Era, a horrific plane crash awoke the quiet town of Woodstock, New Hampshire USA. The explosion rattled homes and was heard throughout the countryside. The wreckage was so high on Mount Waternomee that the flames could be seen from the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock.
On January 14, 1942, five and half weeks after the attack of Pearl Harbor, a Douglas B-18 Bolo Bomber returning to Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts (near Springfield) from a patrol over the North Atlantic Ocean for German submarines crashed into the south side of Mount Waternomee in the White Mountains of New Hampshire USA.
Poor weather and visibility led to the pilots ultimately flying blind and in the wrong direction. Winds blew the bomber many miles off its return course to Westover Air Force Base. By the time the pilots realized they were off course, it was too late. They were only moments away from crashing into Mount Waternomee.
Just before impact Co-pilot Woodrow Kantner pulled the nose of the B-18 Bolo Bomber up avoiding a nose first crash. The lifting the nose of the bomber is possibly what saved the lives of most of the crew. A nose first crash into the side of the mountain would have produced a very different outcome.
Out of seven crew members, five survived the crash and removed themselves from the wreckage. The remaining two members perished when fire and leaking fuel combined causing the bomber to explode shortly after impact.
On the night of the crash, rescuers, residents from Lincoln and Woodstock, climbed the mountain in extreme winter conditions to rescue the five surviving crew members. The next day, when the Army took over the scene, the two remaining crew members were removed from the wreckage and brought down the mountain.
The Army also located and removed live grenades, plus exploded the remaining 300 lb bomb that survived the crash. To this day rumors still float through the mountains of possible unexploded grenades around the wreckage area.
Parts of the wings, engines, landing gear, and fuselage can still be found on the side of Mount Waternomee. A plaque and american flag honoring the aircrew is a constant reminder of these heroes and all others who gave their lives for our country.
On your way down take a moment to visit a small waterfall located just off the unofficial trail. This waterfall is a nice place to reflect on the wreckage site. Without knowing if these falls have an official name, I have started referring to them as "Airmen Falls".
This is a very special place where lives were lost, honor and respect it. These seven men are heroes and will never be forgotten. Keep in mind the crash site is on federal land and it is illegal to remove any artifact from federal land. If you would like to see more images of the crash site click here.
Until the next time
References: Outdoor Ethics – Historical Sites